Joe Lhota

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Joe Lhota
Joe Lhota.jpg
13th Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
In office
June 21, 2017 – November 8, 2018[1]
GovernorAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byFernando Ferrer (acting)
Succeeded byFernando Ferrer (acting)
11th Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
In office
January 9, 2012 – December 31, 2012[1]
GovernorAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byJay Walder
Succeeded byFernando Ferrer (acting)
Personal details
Joseph J. Lhota

(1954-10-07) October 7, 1954 (age 66)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Political partyIndependent (2020–present)
Republican (until 2020)[2]
EducationGeorgetown University
Harvard Business School
Known forRepublican nominee for New York City Mayor 2013
WebsiteNYU Langone Medical Center Biography
Official Twitter

Joseph J. Lhota /ˈltə/ (born October 7, 1954) is an American public servant and a former politician. He served as the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and was also a former deputy mayor of New York City. He was the Republican nominee in an unsuccessful bid for the 2013 election for Mayor of New York City. In January 2014, he became senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center.[3] In 2017, he returned to the chairmanship of the MTA,[4] but would not run the authority day-to-day.[5] He resigned from that position in 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Joe Lhota was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Jackie and Joseph "Joe" Lhota, a New York City police officer.[6] His paternal grandfather was a New York City firefighter, and his maternal grandfather was a New York City taxi driver. His father's family is Czech. His maternal grandfather was of Italian descent and his maternal grandmother was Jewish.[7] Lhota was raised Catholic, and self-identifies as a Christian, although he is considered Jewish according to Jewish law.[8] The family later moved to Lindenhurst.[7] He was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating with honors from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business with a degree in business administration in 1976. He received an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1980.[9]

Private sector career[edit]

Upon graduating from Georgetown University, Lhota joined Arthur Andersen & Co. in Washington, D.C. and specialized in health care finance. He worked there for two years before entering the Harvard Business School.[10] Following Harvard, Lhota returned to New York City and began a fourteen-year career as an investment banker at First Boston and Paine Webber. He specialized in public finance, serving state and local governments throughout the United States.

In 2002, Lhota became executive vice president of Cablevision, as well as president of Lightpath, a fiber-based telecommunications company that offered telephone and high speed data services to businesses throughout the New York area. In 2010, he joined The Madison Square Garden Company as executive vice president as a member of the senior management team and chief administrative officer.[11]

Joseph Lhota in January 2015

In early 2014, after his mayoral run, Lhota was appointed as senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, in charge of "government outreach", emergency preparedness, and business planning.[12][13]

From 2002 to 2015, Lhota served as a member of the board of directors of First Aviation Services, Inc. In 2015, FAVS became a private company.[14][15] In 2014, Lhota became a board member of Cablevision Systems Corporation and was chairman of its audit committee until the company was sold in June 2016 to Altice USA.[16][17]

In 2016, Lhota became an independent member of the board of directors and chairman of the audit committee of MSG Networks.[18][19]

Public service career[edit]

Giuliani administration[edit]

In 1994, Lhota joined the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, where he held several positions over Giuliani's two terms. He first served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for finance and economic development[20] and that year was quickly promoted to New York City finance commissioner.[21] In 1995, he was selected as director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Management and Budget.[22] In 1998, Giuliani appointed Lhota to deputy mayor for operations.[23] As the head of the mayor's rat abatement task force, he was humorously known as "the Rat Czar".[24]

Lhota served as Mayor Giuliani's liaison to the White House, United States Congress, governor of New York, New York State Legislature and New York City Council. Additionally, he was responsible for oversight of the city's relationships with the public employee unions and development of collective bargaining agreement strategies.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority[edit]

On October 20, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Lhota to serve as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority,[25] the largest mass transit provider in the United States (servicing 8.5 million customers daily). While awaiting confirmation by the New York State Senate, Lhota began serving as interim CEO.[26] He was unanimously confirmed on January 9, 2012.[27]

MTA Chair Joe Lhota speaks with transit workers during Sandy recovery efforts at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal
Lhota giving a press briefing at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel with Governor Cuomo and federal, state and city officials.

Lhota was responsible for New York City Transit’s Fastrack program, which saw more than $16 million in productivity gains in 2012, by concentrating and targeting subway station maintenance efforts. In July 2012, Lhota announced a $30 million service enhancement package that restored transportation services that the MTA had previously eliminated in 2010, and added new transit services in underserved areas, including Williamsburg, the South Bronx and Brooklyn Navy Yard—all New York City neighborhoods that had seen significant residential and commercial development since 2005. Lhota headed efforts to make information about the MTA and its services more accessible to its customers through its website and apps. He granted pay raises to managers at the MTA.[28]

When Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, Lhota shut down the MTA in advance of the storm and moved the system's trains to high ground to avoid damage from the storm surge. His other notable hurricane recovery measure was the rapid deployment of a free Rockaway Park Shuttle to service the worst damaged line in Rockaway, Queens.[29] Lhota also directed the MTA to provide regular details and updates to the public on the recovery efforts via social media and local news channels.[29]

In January 2017, Governor Cuomo appointed Lhota to the committee charged with conducting a nationwide search for a new Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the MTA.[30][31][32] He resigned on November 9, 2018, effective immediately.[33]

Mayoral candidacy[edit]

October 9, 2013. Lhota preparing to march at a School Choice rally across the Brooklyn Bridge along with over 17,000 parents from low-income neighborhoods who have children in publicly co-located charter schools.
Lhota's campaign outreaches to New York City's Indian immigrant community

Lhota resigned as head of the MTA on December 31, 2012, to explore running for mayor of New York City.[34] On January 17, 2013, he filed paperwork with the New York City Board of Elections and the New York State Board of Elections to formally launch his mayoral campaign.[35]

Lhota won the endorsements of all three major daily New York City newspapers for the Republican primary, with The New York Times stating, "few people know better than Mr. Lhota how city government works."[36] He won the primary on September 10, 2013 with 52.5% of the vote, defeating John Catsimatidis, who garnered 40.7%, and George T. McDonald, who captured 6.8%.[37]

In the general election campaign, Lhota received the endorsements of Crain's New York Business,[38] AM New York,[39] Newsday,[40] The Jewish Voice,[41] and The New York Post.[42]

Lhota's economic plan focused on job creation primarily through municipal tax cuts. He said he wanted to lower the General Corporation Tax, phase out the Commercial Rent Tax, reform the Unincorporated Business Tax, and lower the hotel tax.[43]

Lhota also proposed a tax incentive program to allow private sector developers to build mixed-use housing to incorporate affordable units.[44] He planned to improve education in New York City by doubling the number of public charter schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. He participated in a School Choice Rally organized by Success Academy Charter Schools to protest Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio's proposed rent requirement for the city's charter schools that were operating in public school buildings and ban on further co-location in public school buildings.[45] He also proposed universal pre-kindergarten without raising taxes.[citation needed]

Lhota lost the general election to de Blasio,[46] garnering 249,121 votes, or 24.3% of the voter turnout.[47]

Return to MTA[edit]

In June 2017, Lhota was nominated by Cuomo to return to Chairman of the MTA.[4] Lhota remained NYU Langone, as he will not be the day-to-day executive of the MTA; that role was instead filled by Veronique Hakim.[5]

Lhota's return to the MTA occurred in the middle of the subway's transit crisis. In summer 2017, the subway system was officially put in a state of emergency after a series of derailments,[48][49] track fires,[50][51] and overcrowding incidents.[50][52] Cuomo ordered Lhota to come up with a reorganization plan for the subway within 30 days.[53] Lhota's plan involved removing seats from subway cars, consolidating the subway's scattered operations, managing escalators and elevators, and repairing damaged and critically important signals and tracks.[54][55] The MTA had been criticized for implementing relatively cosmetic improvements, rather than performing needed repairs and upgrades to signals, power, tracks, station accessibility, and infrastructure. In response, Lhota said that the MTA was improving passenger experience not only on the trains, but also in the stations.[56]

On November 9, 2018, Lhota resigned his position as chairman of the MTA without having taken his $1-a-year salary.[33][57][58] A Wall Street Journal article in October 2018 had speculated that Lhota was considering retiring because of potential conflicts of interest with his other roles as NYU Langone Health chief of staff, and as a lobbyist, though Lhota repudiated these claims.[59] In July 2019, it was revealed that Lhota did resign in a letter to Cuomo due to a state ethics committee decision that he had too strong a potential conflict of interest.[60]

Personal life[edit]

Lhota is married to Tamra Roberts Lhota. The couple met while she was working in Washington, D.C.[61] They have one child.[62]

While he was raised Catholic and identifies as Christian, Lhota's maternal grandmother was Jewish. When asked why he didn't capitalize on his religious heritage to garner the city's Jewish voters, he responded, "I think that would be patronizing."[63]

Political beliefs[edit]

Lhota defended his support for pro-choice and same-sex marriage as not only being in sync with New York City's socially liberal outlook but consistent with Jeffersonian republicanism or democracy and its intellectual premise in classical liberalism. His accommodation of fiscal conservatism and socially progressive views were criticized by some local social conservative groups while independents applauded his position as an example of third-way politics.[64] Lhota called for expulsion of Donald Trump from the Republican Party after Trump's remarks about banning Muslims from entering the United States.[65] He later left the party in protest of Trump's policies.[2] Lhota endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 United States presidential election.[66]


  1. ^ a b Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Past MTA Board Chairs". Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Rubinstein, Dana, and Azi Paybarah (October 17, 2020). "N.Y.C. Was Once a Bastion of G.O.P. Moderates. Then Trump Came Along". New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  3. ^ Dawsey, Josh. "NYU Langone Hires Joe Lhota". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Watch Out Subway Cats: Joe Lhota Is Running The MTA Again". Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Cuomo nominates Lhota to chair MTA, but not run it day-to-day". Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  6. ^ "The Yeshiva World Joe Lhota Winner of NYC Republican Mayoral Primary". September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Cindy (February 5, 2013). "Who Is This Joe Lhota, Anyway?". New York Post. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  8. ^ Kornbluh, Jacob (May 28, 2013). "Exclusive: Joe 'Yoely' Lhota on his Relationship With the Jews". The Jewish Press. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Patzer, Meghan (February 5, 2013). "Alumnus to Run for NYC Mayor". The Hoya. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  10. ^ "New Budget Director Named, Giuliani's Third in Two Years". The New York Times. November 30, 1995. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
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  13. ^ Nahmias, Laura (January 3, 2014). "Lhota Replaces Shorris at NYU Langone". Capital New York.
  14. ^ "Joseph J. Lhota To Join First Aviation Services Board Of Directors". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  15. ^ "EDGAR Pro". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  16. ^ "Joseph Lhota - Director of Cablevision Systems Corp | CVC". Macroaxis.
  17. ^ "SEC Info - Cablevision Systems Corp/NY, et al. - '8-K' for 5/22/14". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  18. ^ "Board of Directors - MSG Networks Corporate". Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "Joseph J. Lhota of MSG Networks Inc Class A Board of Directors". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  20. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (March 8, 1994). "Head of Transit Authority Opposes Merger for Police". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  21. ^ "New York Suspends Its Financial Adviser". New York Times. July 1, 1995. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
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  23. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (July 3, 1998). "Mayor Promotes Budget Director To Deputy Mayor for Operations". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  24. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (September 14, 2000). "The War on Vermin Escalates Into a Duel of Rodent Warriors". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
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  26. ^ "MTA News | MTA". Retrieved September 21, 2013.
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  28. ^ Donohue, Pete (February 5, 2013). "Ex-MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota Grants Retroactive Payraises and Payouts Worth $253,000 to 3 Top Agency Presidents and Former Exec". Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  29. ^ a b Flegenheimer, Matt (November 19, 2012). "Free Subway Shuttle Starting for Part of Rockaway Peninsula". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "Veronique Hakim named interim MTA executive director". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  31. ^ "Nationwide Search For New Head of MTA Starts as Chairman Retires". Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  32. ^ "MTA - news - Governor Cuomo Announces Veronique Hakim Will Serve as Interim Executive Director of the MTA". Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  33. ^ a b Siff, Andrew (November 9, 2018). "MTA Chairman Joe Lhota Resigns, Effective Immediately". NBC New York. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  34. ^ Lovett, Kenneth; Donohue, Pete; Katz, Celeste; Otis, Ginger Adams (December 18, 2012). "Joe Lhota, In Possible Push in Mayoral Race, to Resign as MTA Chairman". Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  35. ^ Peltz, Jennifer. "Ex-MTA Chief Lhota Files Papers for Mayoral Run". Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  36. ^ "For New York Mayor". The New York Times. August 24, 2013.
  37. ^ Orden, Erica (September 10, 2013). "Lhota Wins Republican Primary for Mayor". The Wall Street Journal.
  38. ^ "Joe Lhota for Mayor - Boiling Down The Two Mayoral Candidates to Their Basic Experience and Skill Makes Our Choice Clear". Crain's New York Business. October 18, 2013.
  39. ^ "New York City News: Latest Headlines, Videos & Pictures". Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  40. ^ "Elect Joe Lhota mayor of New York". Newsday. October 28, 2013.
  41. ^ JV Staff (October 31, 2013). "Vote for the Most Qualified Candidates on November 5! The Jewish Voice Endorses The Following:". Jewish Voice. New York, N.Y.
  42. ^ "Joe Lhota for New York City Mayor". New York Post. November 4, 2013.
  43. ^ "Republican Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota Vows to Cut Taxes on Business, Properties, and Hotel Stays". Daily News. New York.
  44. ^ Lee, Kristen A. (July 25, 2013). "Chat With NYC Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota". Daily News. New York.
  45. ^[permanent dead link]
  46. ^ Fermino, Jennifer; Karni, Annie; Siemaszko, Corky (November 5, 2013). "Bill de Blasio Elected Mayor of New York City". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
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  48. ^ Santora, Marc; Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (June 27, 2017). "Subway Derailment in Manhattan Injures Dozens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  49. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (July 21, 2017). "Subway Train Derails in Brooklyn, Disrupting Morning Commute". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  50. ^ a b Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (July 17, 2017). "Subway Track Fire Sends 9 to Hospital and Snarls Morning Commute". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  51. ^ Kirby, Jen (July 17, 2017). "Track Fire Is the Latest Subway Disaster". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  52. ^ Muoio, Danielle (July 16, 2017). "These photos sum up just how bad New York's commuter nightmare has gotten". Business Insider. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
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  54. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (July 25, 2017). "Rescue Plan to Improve Subways Includes Removing Seats". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  55. ^ "MTA | Press Release | MTA Headquarters | MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota Unveils New York City Subway Action Plan". Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  56. ^ Rosenthal, Brian M.; Fitzsimmons, Emma G.; LaForgia, Michael (November 18, 2017). "How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York's Subways". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  57. ^ "MTA chief Joseph Lhota resigns". Newsday. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  58. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (November 9, 2018). "New York's MTA Chairman Joe Lhota Resigns". WSJ. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  59. ^ Berger, Paul; Vielkind, Jimmy (October 24, 2018). "MTA's Lhota Says He Isn't Leaving, Despite Speculation to the Contrary". WSJ. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  60. ^ "Cuomo And His MTA Lied About The Real Reason For MTA Chair's Resignation". Gothamist. July 31, 2019. Archived from the original on August 1, 2019. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  61. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  62. ^ Barbaro, Michael; Flegenheimer, Matt (January 17, 2013). "Outsize Personality Joins, and Jostles, Mayor's Race". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  63. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (September 23, 2013). "18 Fun and Utterly Fascinating Facts About Joe Lhota". New York Magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  64. ^ DeFalco, Beth (August 27, 2013). "Not Your Average Republican: Joe Lhota Favors 'Fiscal Discipline' – As Well As Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage and Pot Legalization". New York Post.
  65. ^ Campanile, Carl (December 10, 2015). "Manhattan GOP Leader Rejects Calls to Boot Trump from Party". New York Post. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  66. ^ Goldschlag, William, and Dan Janison (August 19, 2020). "Democratic convention Night 2 is a 'Biden cares' package". Newsday. Retrieved October 18, 2020.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jay Walder
Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Succeeded by
Fernando Ferrer (interim)
Preceded by
Fernando Ferrer (interim)
Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Succeeded by
Fernando Ferrer (acting)